Pain can disturb a patient’s ability to sleep.1 Consequently, patients may wake with daytime tiredness and suffer drowsy periods throughout the day. Mental alertness and the ability to operate machinery may be impaired, compromising work safety. A lack of sleep can heighten a patient’s awareness of pain and lower their ability to tolerate pain.2

Recently it has been found that poor sleep can affect pain levels to a greater extent than the pain affects the ability to sleep.1–3 Sleep problems and fatigue have also been found to be strong predictors for the onset of chronic widespread pain.1–3 One study suggests that sleep disturbance may impair key processes that contribute to the development of chronic pain, including endogenous pain inhibition and joint pain.1

Learning objectives

After successful completion of this CPD activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Identify the relationship between pain and sleep disturbance
  • Identify the need to treat sleep disturbance as part of a patient management plan for the treatment of pain
  • Describe pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments used to address sleep problems with pain.

Competencies (2016) addressed: 1.4, 1.5, 2.2, 3.1, 3.5.

Accreditation number: CAP1903E

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